This review has long been overdue, and I am already playing Fallout 4 right now. Anyways, Metal Gear Solid V: The Phantom Pain is a stroke of genius and Kojima couldn’t have done it way better than his past previous titles.
My whole play through of Metal Gear Solid 5: The Phantom Pain was a lie! At least that I thought it was. For those who haven’t seen it yet spoilers ahead.
It’s Like Watching a Movie
The whole Phantom Pain playing as Venomous Snake was a great cover-up by Kojima right up to the very end. If you haven’t been too keen on the details, then you’d probably haven’t figure it out the biggest trick or shall I say “lie” that Kojima has ever pulled. Not to mention, Keifer Sutherland is actually doing the voice acting. The scruffy voice of the latter constantly reminds me that I am playing Venemous Snake and not agent Jack Bauer.
The introduction is brilliantly executed with the Hospital scene magnificently orchestrated to relive the moments of Venomous Snake’s harrowing escape with Cipher and XOF personnel wanting you dead. The scene was like that of a movie. The storytelling was well paced and definitely there is no dull moments. Right from the start with the doctor and nurse explaining the real reason why your whole base got bombarded nine years ago and seeing them getting strangled by Quiet was a nice touch, straight from a horror movie. It took me over an hour to get pass through the introduction and I couldn’t believe myself how awesome the game already is based from the introduction.
Fast forward, and you get to ride a horse in the Afghanistan country side exploring the vast desert, Fulton your enemies as you deemed fit or take away their lives mercilessly. Speaking of Fulton, there are other elements added to the game that makes the game even more interesting. There is so much to do in the open world and by the moment Ocelot lets you roam free you can either complete the main missions as fast as possible or try a different approach by taking your time doing side-ops, base management, research new weapons, capturing animals, scavenging for resources or cause massive destruction to outposts that you come across by.
Going Loud or Silent?
Either way you can go silent or go Rambo killing everyone in the process. But that takes out the fun part of the game. After all, Metal Gear Solid was branded as “Tactical Espionage Action”. If you felt that sneaking around huge bases for hours, only to be caught in the later part is damn frustrating; with alarm bells ringing and finding a place to hide is nerve-wracking and fun at the same time.
Which leads me to conclude that the transition from stealth and going loud is interwoven nicely with a wide variety of tools and weapons at your disposal.
One thing that sets apart The Phantom Pain is the sandbox approach of gameplay compared to its predecessors. The whole map is huge, and enemy bases react to how you attach a particular mission. If you feel that the security is too tight during the daytime. Then you might as well strike a cigar (smoking is bad for your health) and wait it out during the nighttime.
I could still remember my daring rescue of a scientist and waited out the night. During my daring rescue I always thought that finding my way around during at nighttime means less guards. Serves me right, and as I scouted from a hill, there were at least 2 Walker mechs, 1 gunship and tons of heavily armed guards patrolling. The cover of darkness did provide an advantage as enemies have limited vision but then again, I was wrong with elite soldiers having night vision goggles. Patience is the key, and with the help of my trusted cardboard box I managed to slip past those soldiers and rescued the scientist.
Kojima has everything covered and has introduced a dedicated “buddy system” that can help you in carrying out your objectives. Aside from that, you can call in airstrikes, supply drops, or artillery support in case things gets messy.
Managing Mother Base is another story. The depth of upgrading your home base is as easy as using your iDroid. Upgrades can be constructed once you met the required resources for your base. And the best part you can visit your base after each mission to explore and complete some side-ops in the process. In the later part of the game, you’ll get the chance to customize every item or object that you have acquired in the game. These include weapons, bases, vehicles that can be tweak to your liking.
Resource gathering is the lifeblood of the game. And you need credits and resources to further progress through the game. Resources are used to research new weapons, upgrades and expanding Mother Base further in the later levels. Which you need to manage carefully balancing your resources and sorting the right guys to do the job.
As far as the story goes, everything is well written and the cinematics are absolutely gorgeous. There is never a dull moment with the Phantom Pain. The back story is solid and each mission that you carefully planned through will change drastically to adapt to the story. The transition from a silent rescue can change in an instant. However, there are hints to what will happen to each mission base from the on-screen credits.
The Phantom Pain is an absolute masterpiece and Hideo Kojima just nailed it once again. I just wish that this will not be his last Metal Gear Solid game. The story remains faithful to the series and the Phantom Pain has just set the bar even further with the different types of approaches you can do to each level making replays a little less boring. I won’t be too surprised if the Phantom Pain makes it as the Game of the Year.